What Does Jeff Berlin Have Against Metronomes?

Discussion in 'Technique [BG]' started by jasper383, Jul 27, 2006.

  1. Shedua511


    Apr 6, 2013
    Oslo, Norway
    Agent for Scandinavian countries: Stick Enterprises Inc.
    Groove Doctor likes this.
  2. Les Fret

    Les Fret

    Sep 9, 2009
    Maybe because he is using no metronome? just kidding! I love Jeff Berlin. But more his older work with Bruford and Holdsworth.
  3. A metrenome helps to develop a musician's internal sense of time. If a musician doesn't have a good sense of time, they will be unable to sense subtle changes in time, or correct for it.
    I've played with musicians like this, and it's akin to a cat chasing it's tail.
  4. Joe Nerve

    Joe Nerve Supporting Member

    Oct 7, 2000
    New York City
    Endorsing artist: Musicman basses
    I probably responded to this 15 years ago, but didn't feel like checking :) . Saw it in the last post...

    Yes. I'm evidence that it actually works.

    When I first switched from guitar to bass I got into my first band where being tight REALLY mattered. I had some work to do in that area, and the guitarist suggested I start practicing with a metronome. I did. I found lots of exercises and actually had fun doing it. I sometimes did it as a meditation of sorts... just playing a single note around the click at different times. Anyhow, what I found happened was it sort of put me on auto pilot. My band at that time jammed a lot, and I found myself locking in like never before. I really felt as if my inner clock was getting tuned up. Once I stopped playing with a metronome, that never left me.

    Regarding drummers being human, to me that has more to do with listening skills than anything else. Being able to play in time doesn't mean one can't play OUT of time. For me it just made me better able to play WITH time, if that makes sense? I can adjust to work with just about any drummer and I believe that too has to do with my practice with a metronome. I've played with some pretty horrible drummers, too. Makes for great locking/listening practice.

    Last note: In my current band 90% of our songs are played with tracks. If I weren't able to play impeccably to a click, I would not have this gig. And I get paid more than most to do what I do :) .
  5. consectaneus


    Sep 23, 2016
    This was my understanding. If I'm wrong, so be it. For instance when working through his chord tone system or his scale exercises (or any other exercises for that matter) I would not have a metronome clicking away. I think Jeff once said that the metronome will take over the practice when timing is not the object, reading and playing and memorizing is. I don't think anyone could object to that. Beyond that, I don't know if he has said never to use a metronome but again I don't know everything he has said and I don't want to misrepresent him.

    Sometimes I think things come so easily to him that he thinks everyone just naturally has good time and it doesn't need to be practiced.
  6. lfmn16


    Sep 21, 2011
    charles town, wv
    Jeff Berlin asked me in a thread once why I thought using a metronome was useful. I told him that I thought it was useful because when I studied with Steve Brewster, Principal Bassist of the National Symphony Orchestra, Bob Oppelt, a later Principal Bassist of the National Symphony Orchestra, and Lynn Peters, Bass instructor at North Carolina School of the Arts, they ALL recommended practicing with a metronome. He had no answer for that. I won't go into my entire list of former instructors, but I never had a single instructor that didn't recommend using a metronome.

    That, and some common sense. When I came back from not playing much bass for a couple of years I recorded my self and found my timing was not up to snuff. I started practicing daily with a metronome and in a very short time I was back to what I considered acceptable. If your timing isn't good, how the hell can you fix it without an outside source? Why would you rely on a drummer or another person when you can use a metronome that keeps perfect time?
  7. lfmn16


    Sep 21, 2011
    charles town, wv
    I could. :D

    If I hit my hand with a hammer I don't blame the hammer. If you don't know how to use a metronome, don't blame the metronome.
    Spin Doctor likes this.
  8. NoiseNinja

    NoiseNinja Experimental-psychedelic-ambient-noise-drone

    Feb 23, 2011
    Being an awesome bass player and musician, which I think we can all agree Jeff Berlin is, doesn't automatically makes you an awesome teacher or even just a good teacher, and even less does it make everything you say true (being strongly opinionated doesn't either).

    Neither will just the right teacher to one person necessarily be just the right teacher to another person.
    Last edited: Jun 12, 2021
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  9. His message is simple: learn the notes first, then play it with groove.
    legalbass likes this.
  10. Whousedtoplay


    May 18, 2013
    Can you listen to the following track and say, "Yes, it's Jeff Berlin on the bass. I can easily recognize him, it's his technique"?

    P.S. The bass player on that superbly-energetic track, Garry Willis.

  11. NoiseNinja

    NoiseNinja Experimental-psychedelic-ambient-noise-drone

    Feb 23, 2011
    Now I don't know if it's true, but I've heard a metronome stole his fist girlfriend.
    Les Fret likes this.
  12. Bob_Ross

    Bob_Ross Gold Supporting Member

    Dec 29, 2012
    Jeff Berlin must hate Györgi Ligeti:

    NoiseNinja and Les Fret like this.
  13. jeronimoski


    Sep 27, 2011
    I find his comments funny considering that people like Petrucci, Rudess, etc. use a metronome when recording and use a timing device during live shows. And this guy is better than them? Not even close.
  14. jzucker

    jzucker Supporting Member

    Feb 3, 2005
    Cleveland, OH
    Janek Gwizdala seems to suffer no ill effects from practicing with a metronome, nuff said.
  15. Bonafide

    Bonafide 'RGJR' Gold Supporting Member

    Oct 15, 2002
    Austin Texas
    Artist: Band In A Box, Nick Silver Pickups, Free The Tone, Carr Amps + more
    Hot track!

    Whousedtoplay likes this.
  16. NoiseNinja

    NoiseNinja Experimental-psychedelic-ambient-noise-drone

    Feb 23, 2011
    I think I might have figured out what Jeff Berlin really has against the use of metronomes.

    Watch this video:

    Now imagine the entire of Earth's population using metronomes...


    Scary, right! :eek:
    Last edited: Jul 17, 2021
  17. JimmyM


    Apr 11, 2005
    Apopka, FL
    Endorsing: Yamaha, Ampeg, Line 6, EMG
    Except Jeff was out doing prog and jazz gigs on a world-class level while Petrucci and Rudess were peeing in diapers.

    Jeff's got opinions. Most of them, I subscribe to. But clicks are a necessary evil in today's world, or at least they seem to be, and it does take practice to play with them well. Still, guys like Petrucci, Rudess, Janek, etc. have no trouble playing and keeping time without them. That's Jeff's whole thing...having YOUR internal clock in gear, and it doesn't take a metronome to make it happen, either.
  18. jzucker

    jzucker Supporting Member

    Feb 3, 2005
    Cleveland, OH
    Janek's in a different category. The nuances of groove and time in jazz and what he and berlin play is an order of magnitude different than what is going on in most prog rock groups (i'm not talking time in terms of tempo and speed) but I think the biggest issue is that when Jeff was coming up (berklee I assume) you could jam every night of the week at jazz clubs with great players. No longer the case...
    JimmyM and Les Fret like this.
  19. BargeOn

    BargeOn Supporting Member

    Mar 19, 2004
    I practiced with a metronome once. It kept slowing down.
  20. LetItGrowTone


    Apr 2, 2019
    Do some fretless players practice with a pedal tone (a single note droning in the background)? I guess yes because I would (but I've never tried it).
    Well, it might help someone (I don't know who) to think of a metronome as a *very slow* pedal tone.

    I imagine an interesting zone of transition between a very fast metronome and a very low pitched pedal tone. In there, one could investigate how much it matters that the tempo of a song is a divisor of the frequency of the root of the key.
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